The reading connection

Hi everyone,

I love pictures of people we know being read to when they were littles. Take our former Children’s Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt for example. I just posted him on Ozarks Family Voices, on the floor with brother Ross, listening while his father Ed reads to them. Guess what Kenn says happened because of those reading sessions when he was a small boy?


Hi everyone,

one-minute-till-bedtimeKenn Nesbitt’s new poetry anthology, ONE MINUTE TILL BEDTIME, is great fun. My copy arrived yesterday. My thanks to Kenn for his time, talent, and energy. I have a feeling that this book is going to be around for a long time. I’m happy to have a couple of poems in it.
Here’s Nesbitt, former Children’s Poet Laureate, quoted on the back cover. “Poetry fosters a lifelong love of reading and bedtime books enrich the enduring bond between parent and child. I am delighted to present this very special collection that brings the two together for you and your family.”

Making progress

ANNOUNCEMENT: The other day I mentioned interviewing Randle Chowning and Larry Lee who, among numerous accomplishments over their long careers, established Ozark Mountain Daredevils in the 70s. Randle is now fund raising to make a new CD so if you’re interested, here’s what Jaynie Chowning tells me you can do. “We just launched Randle’s Kickstarter Campaign today! We have 30 days to raise the funding for him to do a new CD. Please spread the word. Tell people to go to and type in Randle’s name. It will give you details and tell people how to help when you get to his site. Thanks so very much. Wish us luck!”

Hi everyone,

I finished poem #6 yesterday in a new collection. It’s slow going but enjoyable. I have no time line for completion but it’s the main focus of my energy at the moment. Today I need to pull off to work on another project but I can afford the time off task for a while. I like to be in a groove like this.

I’m told that CHILDREN’S LITERATURE IN THE READING PROGRAM is due out next month so that will kick off 2015 in good form. I only wrote one chapter in it but it’s Chapter One. It’s about using poetry in the classroom and includes poems or quotes by Jane Yolen, Kenn Nesbitt, and Joyce Sidman.

I know of three anthologies I’ll be in in 2015 and three education books for which I wrote all the poems. My next book of poems is due out in 2016 and the art I’ve seen so far is spectacular. I have another book of poems under contract and written so hopefully it can still make it out in 2016 also.

Some other interesting possibilities are under development. Maybe more about them later.

Living and Dying with Grace

BULLETIN: Kenn Nesbitt, Our U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate, has joined the celebration this month of our 5th anniversary of Word of the Month Poetry Challenge. Not once but twice! With thanks to Kenn, I hope everyone will scroll to the bottom of the adult poems for excellent examples of Kenn’s winning humor!

REMINDER: We are also blessed this month with the first student poems we’ve seen in a very long time. Please read them and let the students know how much we enjoy their work and appreciate them and their teachers!

Hi everyone,

Let me tell you about a new book. It’s called LIVING AND DYING WITH GRACE: A CAREGIVER’S JOURNAL. and is written by Susan Carmichael. I met Susan when she attended my first poetry workshop in 2011. The Barn wasn’t built yet so we met in the farmhouse that once was home to the founders of Highlights.Poetry Workshop at Honesdale, 2011 024 The picture is of Susan (left) and Heidi Mordhorst having an animated chat. Eight poets attended that workshop and we named ourselves SWAP 8+1. Swap had to do “with us swapping poems, energy, problems and success, plus all the help we give each other.”

True to our name, the members of SWAP 8+1 have remained faithful with correspondence. We have shared sadness, job and address changes, and warming success. Quite a bit of publishing news has been shared and I continue to be impressed by the determination of these poets to find outlets for their work. I’ll report on everyone’s adventures in a blog this week.

But for now, back to Susan and her new book. This one is not poetry. It’s about Horace, her father-in-law, who was a fine man and her good friend. Toward the end of his life Susan was deeply involved in caring for Horace and learning from him, in the process, the grace of dying with humor, kindness, and consideration.

I began reading this book as a favor and ended it with appreciation, not to mention the lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I recommend Susan’s book for anyone who is caring for, has cared for, or might find themselves caring for a beloved family member. Susan, thank you for writing this.

If you want a copy of your own, is the only place Susan is selling it. She says, “if a group would like several copies, e-mail her at and she will gladly fill the request.

One before the poetry workshop

Hi everyone,

This morning I heard from Jo Lloyd at the Highlights Foundation Workshops that four more poets have signed up for my workshop. Last year it filled early and this year it has been slow, but now that we’re into the final four weeks we’re seeing last minute decisions being made. I don’t much care for groups larger than 15 but I’m fine with that many.

If you’re still wondering if this one is for you, here’s a link that outlines more of what we’ll do and how we’ll go about it.

I’m happy that Jane Yolen and Kenn Nesbitt have both agreed to be my SKYPE guests this year.

Jane has incredible credentials in just about every aspect of publishing, both for children and adults. Her range of genres would be hard to match by anyone anywhere.

Kenn is our current U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate and follows J. Patrick Lewis who was my SKYPE guest at last year’s workshop. Nothing like hanging out with royalty while we sit comfortably at The Barn.

Let me know if you have any questions about this year’s lineup or slate of activities. You know where to find me.